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Moving Back to UK From Germany

Moving Back to UK From Germany

Old Sep 27th 2020, 7:50 pm
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Default Moving Back to UK From Germany

Hi BritishExpats!

just joined, good to be here.

I'm an ex-Londoner, self-employed IT contractor. Expat for many years, mainly in Europe, principally Germany (where I am now), but I've also lived in Belgium and Portugal, as well as Far East (Thailand and Taiwan). So if you need some advice or tips about those countries, esp Germany then I may be able to help. :-)

Actively thinking now of leaving Germany for.......UK.

Not specifically because of Brexit (I have right of stay here in Germany) but the question is do I really want to stay here? I've actually been trying to move away from Germany for the last 10 years. But always ended up coming back.

Mainly because I want to escape the German high tax and high regulation system, esp their extremely expensive health insurance. Being self-employed I pay very high rates for this and Germany - and the EU in general is not good for self-employed or small startups or entrepreneurs.

Do I want to keep paying these extortionate amounts and more as I get older? Basically no. Enough is enough. And UK is far better for small business than here.

Trouble is work and residence permits for other places are not easy. Brexit complicates the issue as well - but I see opportunities for UK that EU will not have.

So I'm thinking of moving back to UK - either to an outer town around London - or else another location. Do not want to live in London - too expensive.

I've been looking at Birmingham. Never been there, but heard it has improved a lot this last few decades and there is a lot of new development going on.

Also it has a central location, not far to London, but much cheaper than London, and it's a big lively friendly city. I prefer larger places, and I need a location with lots of potential IT clients and work within reaching distance. So Birmingham could fit the bill.

Don't want to go further north. I've lived in north, many years ago. Friendly people but I prefer south/midlands, weather a bit better for one thing. Don't forget I'm basically a southerner and a Londoner! ;-)

So that's my situation right now.

Not easy with Brexit and now the Covid lockdown.... will have to see what is possible. And whether the UK economy is going to make it possible. Right now it looks worse than Germany's. UK seems to have handled this epidemic appallingly. And we now have the fallout from the lockdown.

Plus the risk of a "no deal" etc with EU next year... where does UK go from here.... who knows!
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Old Sep 28th 2020, 4:49 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

If your sole motive for moving back is to avoid high taxation, I would think carefully.
You might find that any potential savings are wiped out by the need for private medical treatment / insurance so as to get round waiting lists for some of the procedures commonly associated with ageing such as hip replacements, cataract surgery.
I know tax is high in Germany and Deutsche Bahn isn’t what it was but at least you can sort of see where you tax money goes.
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Old Sep 28th 2020, 8:25 pm
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by Rosecampion View Post
If your sole motive for moving back is to avoid high taxation, I would think carefully.
You might find that any potential savings are wiped out by the need for private medical treatment / insurance so as to get round waiting lists for some of the procedures commonly associated with ageing such as hip replacements, cataract surgery.
I know tax is high in Germany and Deutsche Bahn isn’t what it was but at least you can sort of see where you tax money goes.
Well it's true that health care is far better in Germany than in UK. But then it should be, with the sky-high insurance charges we have to pay.

Trouble with the German health system is that it is over-provisioned and costs us a fortune as a result. The entire system from doctors, specialists to insurance kassen, pharmacists and all the hangers-on are royally creaming off from the public and have been for years.

I do not see any end to this in sight. Germany does not like reforms, they will not reform anything unless they are absolutely pushed to the edge with nowhere else to go. Merkel is more interested in her darling refugees and all things "eco" than reforming the health insurance, or cutting taxes or deregulating anything.

Whereas one thing you can say about UK is that it is open to reform and does reform. It also tends towards lower taxes. I can't say the same of Germany. Forget lower taxes all those who enter Germany!

You would think Germany being a more "modern" country than old England, that it would be more into reforming, and England the one who keeps everything the way it is. But I would say its the other way round. I think its partly the Germans are scared to tinker with anything in the post 1945 system in case it causes everything to come crashing down!

But its also because countries which have it good do not see the need to reform, they just live on their laurels. They can afford to. For a while.

We also have about the most expensive electricity in the world because of the German's knee-jerk reaction to the Japan Fukushima tsunami/earthquake. Closing down nuclear power stations - when Germany still has loads of coal powered stations which they will now find hard to shut, whereas UK has practically switched off almost all its coal-powered stations. Eco Rules regardless of the logic. But I do not see anything "eco" in spewing out dirty coal fumes from coal power stations.

There are other things I am not so keen about in UK - public transport, lack of cycling infra (though this is slowly now being addressed with Covid forcing local councils hands). Plus the housing sector - I would be renting not buying. Standards do not seem up to Germany's level, you have to be much more selective. Also apparently you cant even put up shelves etc or even paint the walls so I hear.

But these things may be about to change, with "Generation Rent" and governments more aware of the need to improve protection for renters and create a better framework for leases etc.

At least in UK aspirins do not cost 9 Euros a box! You can buy in Superdrug etc for 1 Pound or so.





Last edited by AngloFox; Sep 28th 2020 at 8:30 pm.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 5:11 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

On the subject of regulation, I worked on a freelance basis in the UK for several years and in terms of admin, it was a breeze. Very simple and straightforward.
Wish I could say the same for France.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 7:20 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Huge difference in public transport between Germany and Britain. Trains and municipal transport. Britain is now like a Third World country.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 7:34 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
Huge difference in public transport between Germany and Britain. Trains and municipal transport. Britain is now like a Third World country.
It's really not. My father travels all over the UK by public transport (often for free with his bus pass) and can get pretty much anywhere, and years of commuting in to London have taught me that our public transport network is exceptionally good. It's nowhere near 'third world', that's a crazy exaggeration. Just ask an American or Canadian how they find it, the idea of being able to get on a bus and travel for free, or to be able to travel hundreds of miles between cities/towns via various different transport methods, and they're amazed.

Originally Posted by AngloFox View Post
At least in UK aspirins do not cost 9 Euros a box! You can buy in Superdrug etc for 1 Pound or so.
That would be pricey. Normally about 50p a pack.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 7:46 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by christmasoompa View Post
It's really not. My father travels all over the UK by public transport (often for free with his bus pass) and can get pretty much anywhere, and years of commuting in to London have taught me that our public transport network is exceptionally good. It's nowhere near 'third world', that's a crazy exaggeration. Just ask an American or Canadian how they find it, the idea of being able to get on a bus and travel for free, or to be able to travel hundreds of miles between cities/towns via various different transport methods, and they're amazed.
Same around here. we spent 7 months here as a trial run before moving back, no car, to check out the public transport.

We often visit my wife’s sister in a village outside of Edinburgh and that is also great. Never need to look up the times just walk to the end of her street and a bus will be along in 10 minutes or less.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 7:55 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
Huge difference in public transport between Germany and Britain. Trains and municipal transport. Britain is now like a Third World country.
Depends ....transport in and around London is no different from other modern European cities and Birmingham is very excessible to London, maybe it's not the same for some people living further North if the UK though.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 10:18 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by Helen1964 View Post
On the subject of regulation, I worked on a freelance basis in the UK for several years and in terms of admin, it was a breeze. Very simple and straightforward.
Wish I could say the same for France.
Yes I've heard about France. Ironically it is harder for IT freelance contractors in UK than in Germany. You have to go through a management company (same in NL and Switzerland). Or else have your own limited company, but you have to watch out for IR35 tax rules which can catch you out.

Thing is in Germany they have this pseudo-selfemployment rule, which tries to catch people out. I was advised to have a fax machine, letterhead paper, and business cards (!). I am not going to go in for all that old fashioned palaver just for the sake of the German tax authorities still stuck in the 20th century. Used to have all that stuff 20 years ago - but times have moved on and I do not want or need any of that now.

Have the German tax authorities never heard of email, PDFs, apps and websites? Not to mention remote-working. Havent heard of Zoom or Skype either by the sound of it. Was also advised to rent an office room somewhere! Which I wouldn't need - I work from clients premises or from my laptop wherever I am.

Last edited by AngloFox; Sep 29th 2020 at 10:28 am.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 10:27 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
Huge difference in public transport between Germany and Britain. Trains and municipal transport. Britain is now like a Third World country.
That would be a gross exaggeration. There are still English cities with no proper public transport infra, eg Leeds and Bristol, just buses.

But even some places like Croydon now have a great tram system, which I would never have imagined happening.

What London needs is a comprehensive tram network, like the Croydon one. There was a plan for a line running north south central London but that was shelved for financial reasons. Same old story.

Transport in Germany is not always better, DB trains are often delayed. Also there seem to be endless strikes. I had a whole dose of it some years back with continual "warnstreiks" etc which disrupted my commute to work for best part of 2 years. I was getting fed up with it.

Also in Berlin a few years back they had big problems with their S-Bahn which had to run reduced services for a long period due to need to catch up on overdue maintenance.

Then there's the disaster of Berlin's new airport.

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Old Sep 29th 2020, 10:47 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by AngloFox View Post
Hi BritishExpats!

just joined, good to be here.

I'm an ex-Londoner, self-employed IT contractor. Expat for many years, mainly in Europe, principally Germany (where I am now), but I've also lived in Belgium and Portugal, as well as Far East (Thailand and Taiwan). So if you need some advice or tips about those countries, esp Germany then I may be able to help. :-)

Actively thinking now of leaving Germany for.......UK.

Not specifically because of Brexit (I have right of stay here in Germany) but the question is do I really want to stay here? I've actually been trying to move away from Germany for the last 10 years. But always ended up coming back.

Mainly because I want to escape the German high tax and high regulation system, esp their extremely expensive health insurance. Being self-employed I pay very high rates for this and Germany - and the EU in general is not good for self-employed or small startups or entrepreneurs.

Do I want to keep paying these extortionate amounts and more as I get older? Basically no. Enough is enough. And UK is far better for small business than here.

Trouble is work and residence permits for other places are not easy. Brexit complicates the issue as well - but I see opportunities for UK that EU will not have.

So I'm thinking of moving back to UK - either to an outer town around London - or else another location. Do not want to live in London - too expensive.

I've been looking at Birmingham. Never been there, but heard it has improved a lot this last few decades and there is a lot of new development going on.

Also it has a central location, not far to London, but much cheaper than London, and it's a big lively friendly city. I prefer larger places, and I need a location with lots of potential IT clients and work within reaching distance. So Birmingham could fit the bill.

Don't want to go further north. I've lived in north, many years ago. Friendly people but I prefer south/midlands, weather a bit better for one thing. Don't forget I'm basically a southerner and a Londoner! ;-)

So that's my situation right now.

Not easy with Brexit and now the Covid lockdown.... will have to see what is possible. And whether the UK economy is going to make it possible. Right now it looks worse than Germany's. UK seems to have handled this epidemic appallingly. And we now have the fallout from the lockdown.

Plus the risk of a "no deal" etc with EU next year... where does UK go from here.... who knows!
I can understand why one would want to leave Germany and did so myself many years ago. But if the UK is better will just depend on the individual and every case/location is different. All I know is that I felt very uncomfortable the last time I passed Birmingham and thought it was rough as hell. The city centre might be different but many areas looked depressing and full of litter in my opinion but maybe there are nicer parts. Unfortunately it's very hard to avoid tax these days and for every pro there's always a con. You just have to decide what suits you best.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 10:58 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by Moses2013 View Post
I can understand why one would want to leave Germany and did so myself many years ago. But if the UK is better will just depend on the individual and every case/location is different. All I know is that I felt very uncomfortable the last time I passed Birmingham and thought it was rough as hell. The city centre might be different but many areas looked depressing and full of litter in my opinion but maybe there are nicer parts. Unfortunately it's very hard to avoid tax these days and for every pro there's always a con. You just have to decide what suits you best.
Not trying to "avoid" tax as such, everywhere one pays tax.

Its more the health insurance on top of tax that I object to. How would Brits like to be charged around 1000 Euros a month for NHS, every month, come rain or shine, whether you have any income coming in or not. This is the basic public tariff for self employed in Germany. I am not talking about private private PKV, just the minimal basic tariff rate set by the government which they have to offer you (and I say around because I know exact rates different people pay vary, so please don't come back to me quoting a load of different rates -I know they vary). Plus there is the Selbstvorbehalt you pay before the insurance kicks in, so averaged over the year you can say the minimum rate typically works out around 1000 Euros, if not more.

Its madness. Even council tax in UK is not 1000 quid a month.

It needs reforming. I know of Dutch people who were thinking of moving to Germany but changed their minds when they heard about the German health insurance and decided to stay home.

Last edited by AngloFox; Sep 29th 2020 at 11:14 am.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 11:02 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

All I know is that I felt very uncomfortable the last time I passed Birmingham and thought it was rough as hell. The city centre might be different but many areas looked depressing and full of litter in my opinion but maybe there are nicer parts.
Good point, and I can imagine it. Seems that in UK, like in US, you have to be very selective about which district you move to. Unlike in Germany, in US/UK it all comes down to the district. Live on the wrong side of the tracks...

Here in Germany districts do not differ all that much. Its more an American/British thing where the district and address you have makes all the difference.

EDIT: I have heard there are some really nice districts in Birmingham, esp in the south.

But there are plenty of crap areas in London, the city I come from, so Birmingham is hardly unique.

Last edited by AngloFox; Sep 29th 2020 at 11:09 am.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 11:15 am
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Originally Posted by AngloFox View Post
Good point, and I can imagine it. Seems that in UK, like in US, you have to be very selective about which district you move to. Unlike in Germany, in US/UK it all comes down to the district. Live on the wrong side of the tracks...

Here in Germany districts do not differ all that much. Its more an American/British thing where the district and address you have makes all the difference.

But there are plenty of crap areas in London, the city I come from, so Birmingham is hardly unique.
Of course if from London it's nothing new for you:-). We were just stopping on the way back to Ireland and for us it was quite a shock. I suppose cities like Frankfurt aren't much better and Dublin can be rough in parts too but Birmingham seemed to be on a different level. Since I was never really a city person and live quite rural, I'm probably no longer used to these things.
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Old Sep 29th 2020, 1:21 pm
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Default Re: Moving Back to UK From Germany

Must disagree with you,AngloFox.I too have been self-employed most of my adult life in 3 different countries,England(various locations),Scotland & Spain.All have very different regulations & payment charges for those that are in that category.We had 2 very good businesses operating at the same time in Sussex when we decided to relocate to another country which valued our efforts more.No matter how hard we worked we found that so much was just handed over to the"workshy" who preferred to take generous welfare benefits.Britain cannot afford to lose people like ourselves who try to run small businesses.It was not easy,didn't expect it to be as Spain was not even in the EU at that time.But succeed we did.Many years later I retired & our business is still operating under a new owner some 20 years later.I am now planning to return to Scotland as I have no family member who wishes to inherit a foreign property & this way would make things less complicated,especially after Brexit.Fortunately I have been able to secure a reservation for my property so hopefully will be able to be on my way soon.Brexit is one of the worse things,my opinion,to happen.Although I will leave my good life on the Continent,I must put that behind me & just learn to adapt yet again.But I feel so sorry for our younger generations who will find it very difficult in the years ahead to get easy access to the opportunities I had.Even our Commonwealth countries are now not so welcoming as in the past.
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